The Librarian and Lee: LSU’s Jessica Lacher-Feldman was Harper Lee’s ‘handler’ for literary events _lowres

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2007, file photo, "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee smiles during a ceremony honoring the four new members of the Alabama Academy of Honor, at the state Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. Lee has started a nonprofit company that will produce a play about the book "To Kill A Mockingbird", ending a dispute that threatened to derail the long-running performance, a publishing group said Saturday, April 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File) ORG XMIT: NY108


Author Harper Lee, famous for "To Kill a Mockingbird," has reportedly died.

She was 89.

This past July, Jessica Lacher-Feldman, head of special collections at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library, told The Advocate she met Lee several times when Lacher-Feldman held a similar position at the University of Alabama. Lee, a resident of Monroeville, Alabama, attended the state university, which sponsors an annual “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay contest for high school students.

Lee would attend an annual reception for the students on campus. Someone needed to shepherd Lee — escorting her to the site, keeping the line moving, helping the hard-of-hearing author when she couldn’t make out what was said to her. Between 2001 and 2006, that someone was Lacher-Feldman.

“She was the most regular, down-to-earth person,” Lacher-Feldman said. “In the business of working in the library like this, you meet a lot of wonderful older folks and people who are interested in a lot of different things and just kind, generous, sweet, engaged, intelligent people. She is just as regular as you could imagine.”

Despite the fame of what was (until the recent publication of “Go Set a Watchman”) her only book, Lee, 89, is hardly known to her fans, having rejected all media interviews for the past half-century. Except to receive awards, Lee has worked hard to stay out of the spotlight.

When “To Kill a Mockingbird” became a critical and sales success after its 1960 publication, Lee said she had only hoped it would get some kind reviews.

“She was a little bit stunned still that people were so excited to see her,” Lacher-Feldman said. “I think she was kind of shy in that sense.”